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Why bother getting a diagnosis? 

There seem to be many strong arguments for either getting or not getting a diagnosis, and I am not here to tell you which is right or wrong. All I would like to do here is to share my view of why having a diagnosis can be helpful. Specifically, I am talking about mental health diagnoses and how it might be useful to know.

I have heard many people saying that getting a diagnosis is just giving people an excuse for not wanting to do things or to not even try to. I feel sad every time I hear this as it often stops people from seeking help, and from getting the support that could make their lives so much easier.

If you were suffering from ongoing physical symptoms, for example feeling sick, getting ill after eating certain foods, and generally feeling unwell, you would go and see your doctor. Say you were diagnosed with a food intolerance, would this be an excuse to not eat that food, or would it be an explanation for what is making you ill
and how to avoid it? Obviously, it would be seen as an explanation and it would be in your best interest to follow the guidance with it.

So, if you have, for example, struggled with anxiety for a long time, have forced yourself to fight through and deal with life, and have never sought a diagnosis for it so do not understand what is happening, how do you learn how to make choices which could enable you to live life a bit easier?


Getting a diagnosis for anxiety could help you discover what causes your anxiety, where it started, and how you can do things differently not so that the anxiety stops making your life harder than it needs to be. It is not an excuse for feeling how you feel, it is an explanation.

People often worry about being labelled, and of the judgement and stigma that can come from it. Unlike with a broken leg, others cannot see what goes on internally, and often don’t stop to consider how hard invisible struggles are for others. Labels aren’t offered just so someone can feel “special” or get special treatment. Labels are there to help the person suffering have some understanding of why things are so hard, and to give others a bit of a clue as to how they might be able to help that person better. The label is yours, and you don’t have to tell anyone else unless it serves you to do so. People don’t tend to brag about their labels or diagnoses, so if
they are telling you about it, it’s because they are trusting you with personal and relevant information about themselves. I find this even harder when parents fear getting a diagnosis, or label, for their child.

They worry what others will say, whether this be other children or the adults, and fail to see the damage done by not seeking the right support. I have worked with many neurodivergent people, and I include myself in this group, who did not know until adult life that they were Autistic, ADHD, Dyslexic or many other of the invisible
difficulties. Some of this happens because the parents did not see how a diagnosis would help, or they didn’t want their child to be seen as different, or they worried about others’ opinions of what the label means. What is often forgotten is how much easier life can be with the understanding of what causes those difficulties, and
getting the right support from an early age. Without the diagnosis, these children go all through their school life feeling like that don’t fit in. They struggle with things that others seem to find easy. They grow into adulthood not knowing which areas could 
be made easier, and learning to just try to get on with it without support or understanding. In short, they grow up feeling that they are wrong!

Getting the right diagnosis can be truly life-changing. By understanding yourself you can start to understand how you can do things differently. By knowing what your label is, you can ask for the right help and support. By getting what you need, you can work out how to live your best life.

So please don’t see a diagnosis, whether yours or someone else’s, as an excuse. Please see it for what it is, a nudge in the right direction to knowing and accepting yourself, understanding about how you fit into your world, and a pathway to seeking the right support in living your best life.

If you have any worries about getting a diagnosis, dealing with a diagnosis you have received, or would just like someone you can talk openly with, please do get in touch. I may not have all the answers, but am willing to see if we can find those together.

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